Page Field Marines better prepare recruits for future war-zone deployments
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    Cool Page Field Marines better prepare recruits for future war-zone deployments

    Page Field Marines better prepare recruits for future war-zone deployments
    Submitted by: MCRD Parris Island
    Story Identification #: 200512185730
    Story by Lance Cpl. Justin J. Shemanski

    MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND S.C. (Jan. 21, 2005) -- With the guidance of their battalion and platoon commanders, the Marines of Field Training Platoon recently designed and developed a new Night Observation Course to give recruits at the Crucible a practical and very real look at what they might be facing on deployments.

    According to Staff Sgt. Louis Alessio, a Page Field event leader, it would take a team of recruits no more than 40 minutes to finish the old course, but now the average time taken to complete the new course is approximately an hour-and-a-half. During this time, recruits are able to learn a lot more about reconnaissance patrols and the importance of listening to, and observing the enemy.

    "They are implementing a lot more of the things they learn at [Basic Warrior Training]," said Alessio. "Before, the older course was strictly observation. They would get to a certain spot, stop, listen and then get up and move. Now they actually use different hand and arm signals, they learn how to go on a security halt, give a head count and how to cross danger areas. The observation part is thrown in there so there's a lot more moving parts to this course versus the older course."

    Following a brief at the beginning of the course, recruits will patrol an area of Page Field in search of a simulated "Iraqi" weapons cache on the outskirts of Fallujah and will encounter two different checkpoints. While at the first checkpoint, recruits will hear
    Arabic radio traffic and at the second they will witness a group of well-armed "insurgents" guarding and loading ammo onto trucks near the weapons cache. The recruits will then report back to the safe zone and report their newfound intelligence to higher headquarters.

    "We are trying to teach recruits skills that they can build upon once they get out into the operating forces," said Capt. Matthew Nichols, Field Training Platoon commander.

    "We are trying to lay the foundation right now for things they are going to see later on with the current world situation ... this is all practical stuff that they are going to encounter in real-world scenarios. Six or nine months from now, it's very likely that a lot of these kids will be over in Iraq and Afghanistan."

    According to Alessio, it is the current world situation that prompted this change in the course. He said that by looking at the old program, the Page Field staff knew they could come up with a better package for the recruits.

    "It's not going to give them the total package," he said. "They will learn a lot more at [Marine Combat Training], but this will give them a base to work with when they leave here. It's not that they couldn't use what they learned at the other Night Observation Course, but this gives them a little bit more for their toolbox."

    According to Nichols, one of these new tools is teaching the recruits about the Size, Activity, Location, Unit, Time, and Equipment (SALUTE) brief. When revamping the course, it was found out that recruits did not receive a formal period of instruction on the SALUTE process while in recruit training, but now, not only do the they know what it is, but they know its purpose.

    "The bottom line is that we are teaching [recruits] situational awareness and to pay attention to their surroundings," said Nichols, "because really, when you get into a combat zone, that's probably going to save your life."

    Since the changes, the recruits have done just that - become more aware of their surroundings and more focused on the mission at hand.

    "You can tell just by following a team through the course," said Nichols. "They are more motivated and they know there's some logic to it. They know that they may very well see this stuff again in the future."

    The course is currently in its fourth week of operation and Nichols said there are still a few small changes to be made here and there, but all in all, Field Training Platoon feels they have a developed a far better program than that of the past and has hopes that recruits will leave here with a little something extra.

    "I hope this course sticks around for a while," said Nichols. "I'm sure as the situation in the world changes or continues to develop, you'll have to adjust the scenario a little bit, but I think the concept will be in place for a while."

    Corporal David Goral, Basic Warrior Training instructor, briefs Lima Co. recruits on their mission before they embark on the new Night Observation Course at Page Field Jan. 11. The new course, which takes nearly two hours to complete, was designed to better prepare recruits for future war-zone deployments.
    Photo by: Lance Cpl. Justin J. Shemanski

    Lima Co. recruits listen as a Basic Warrior Training instructor gives them a brief prior to engaging in the new Night Observation Course at Page Field Jan. 11.
    Photo by: Lance Cpl. Justin J. Shemanski

    The Drifter's Wife


  2. #2
    Marine Free Member LivinSoFree's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Quantico, VA
    Man... that sounds a LOT different than the N.O. course I did only... seven months ago... "err" for progress.

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